Friday, 6 March 2009

Losing my Head!


Today I am suffering from Nervous Exhaustion!

I have mostly been making soap. Or at least, trying to make soap! The stress of it!! By 4o'clock, my kitchen smelled like an explosion in Lush, and looked like a bomb had hit it!

My main cause of concern (hysteria might be a better word) was the caustic soda element. You have to mix this into water, then it heats up to 200 degrees. The trouble is, one tiny bead of the raw material, or one TINY splash of the lye solution on your skin or anywhere else upon your person - despite extensive protective wear, and it's burn baby burn!!! I was imagining all sorts of "hot spots" - "is that an itch or does it feel hot?.. no it's just a twinge .. but it might be a hot itch ... no it's fine.. what's that rash?.. nerves.. is it hot? .. no it's fine ..." .. argh!! It was an operation and a half!


My first batch seized - which is to say that I over stirred after adding my essential oils and the mixture set in the pan, causing a gloopy porridgy sludge which after referring to several sources I deemed "unfit" and had to throw away ... but where to throw it??? Freshly made soap is not only caustic, but it heats up while curing, so the kitchen bin was out of the question ... the wheely bin? a plastic bag might melt, you can see my train of thought .. in the end, I wrapped it in paper, put it in a bag, then another bag, then an insulated box, then in the dustbin outside. I am still fearing for the bin/dustbin man/eventual destination, and i have guilt!!

Second batch, I learned from my mistakes, didn't stir too much after essential oil addition at the end, and poured into my mould just in the nick of time. Wrapped in a towel and a blanket, I think it's safe. For now.

Thought I might as well try a third batch as my with my state of nerves I thought that if I don't get ontop of this now, I might never try again. So I dug out Jane's chocolate soap recipe and started again. I think it was ok. I had palpitations by the end of the stirring. It's wrapped in two towels now and is hot. That's a good sign.

But I might not sleep tonight.

Lining the moulds was also a challenge as you have to do it in one piece. One set of instructions I found cited "hospital corners" ... WHAT???? I decided to go with my own "cornering a table cloth" theory which worked. Unless you work in catering, that might mean as much to you as "hospital corners" ....

I'm still wondering if there is an escaped bead of caustic soda lurking somewhere about my person or my worktop! But I must get over this fear as I have visions of lovely lemon scented castille soap with dried lemon slices on the top. Oh how I am craving summer.

And then I found this blog which has demonstrations of much safer to use "melt and pour" soap. Now while it's safer, it's not nearly as nice as it's packed with chemicals - the sort of stuff you might buy in Lush infact. It would save alot of hysteria, and I just love the creative possibilities.

14 comments:

Heart in the country said...

Hi Julia

Who'd ever think that making soap was so complicated! Stick with it, gorgeous smelling soap and limited chemicals must be worth it in the end.....did you make your own Lye or is that a step too far - it certainly would be for me :0)
Kx

Gina said...

I never realised making soap was such a dangerous affair!

Taz said...

Ok see how I said I wanted to make soap I think maybe now I should give it a miss. Sounds like I'd be a nervous wreck.
I'm sure your soap will be gorgeous hon, looking forward to seeing the rewards of your day.

JuliaB said...

I think it would probably be ok for a less neurotic person to make - not mission impossible! But I shall certainly be continuing my soap habit. I didn't mean to put people off! xx

Veronica Darling... said...

Hilarious! I hope you did manage a nice sleep! GOSH! What a big task!

BarbaraG said...

If you'd like help, I have been making luscious, creamy, moisturizing soap with loads of yummy bubbles for many years. I can guide you to take all the "scariness" out - promise! I use to have a business and sold a ton of it along with lotions and creams etc. Just lmk at BarbaraG97@ gmail.com

The Coffee Lady said...

Gosh that does look like hard work! I'm looking forward to seeing the results!

dottycookie said...

You're scaring me a bit! It does sound very exciting though.

driftwood said...

I had no idea it was such an ordeal to make soap, in our house the ordeal is encouraging small boys to use it!

jo said...

I thought it was easy peasy making soap but obviously not. Hope all turns out well in the end, looking forward to seeing photos of the end results.

Jo Power said...

Have just stopped laughing I have mental picture of you jumping around your kitchen trying to work out if its a normal itch or a burning itch. The lemon soap sound delish and can't wait to see the finished results. Hope your bin is ok LOL

summerfete said...

OMG what a nightmare. I remember similar experiences making candles, you could never get them out of the damn mould!!

Looking forward to seeing the fruits of your labour though!!

Clare

Billie Jane said...

Hi Julia... you didnt need to throw the seized batch out... you can rebatch it... it isnt as pretty but its def usable soap *(will explain how later). You will get more confident the more you do. Well done girl! Proud of you!!!

Moogsmum said...

Oh my goodness - no wonder your nerves were frayed - it sounds terrifying!
Mind you, the finished product is looking good :-)

xxx